Federal Policy

OWRC 2022 Federal Program Priorities

Below is a list of our current priorities for federal program engagement and advocacy:

Federal Budget & Appropriations to Key Agencies
Support funding for key federal agencies and programs that provide grants, loans, and other financial assistance to agricultural water suppliers and their water users, including:

  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (WaterSMART grants, Drought assistance)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (Stream gages and other data collection)
  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (Natural Resources Conservation Service grant programs, PL-566)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (State water planning assistance)
    • Engage with agencies to ensure implementation of funding programs are workable and efficient
    • Support reduced state and local match requirements during current negative economic conditions
    • Support increased forgiveness for Clean Water State Revolving Loans and other water infrastructure financing
    • Support policy flexibility with Buy America provisions when products or supplies are unavailable

Water Supply & Infrastructure Funding
Support funding for planning, feasibility, and implementation of water supply and infrastructure projects including:  

  • Drought planning and mitigation, including emergency and long-term strategies to increase drought resiliency and water management flexibility during shortages
  • Collaborative regional water supply projects, including groundwater recharge and multi-purpose surface storage
  • Wildfire prevention and post-wildfire recovery projects to protect water supply and water delivery infrastructure
  • Climate change planning, adaptation and mitigation projects to enhance water supply and delivery system hardiness to extreme weather events
  • Rehabilitation and modernization of aging storage and water delivery infrastructure (piping, lining, dam repair)
  • Prevention and remediation of invasive aquatic species (inspection, education, etc.)
  • Fish screens, fish passage, and related infrastructure to protect sensitive, threatened and endangered fish

Federal Regulation Engagement
Support practical policies and common-sense reforms to federal regulations impacting water delivery, including:

  • Monitor and engage in proposed revisions to laws and rules related to the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, etc.
  • Support regulatory streamlining to reduce burden upon districts and ag water users
  • Oppose expansion of federal jurisdiction and/or new regulations that threaten districts’ ability to deliver water
  • Support collaborative, voluntary tools to assist in species management and water quality improvements

In-Conduit Hydropower and Other Renewable Energy Projects
Support in-conduit hydropower, photovoltaic power, and other community-based small-scale renewable energy projects

  • Monitor and engage in regulatory issues impacting district renewable energy projects, such as Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA); Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP), wheeling, interconnection issues.
  • Support financial incentives for projects that incorporate in-conduit hydropower or other renewable energy

Watershed Planning
Support funding and policies that protect state water resources and improve regional water planning efforts

  • Monitor Columbia River Treaty, Columbia River Operations EIS, Willamette reallocation and engage in related regional discussions with Bureau of Reclamation, US Army Corps of Engineers, others as appropriate
  • Support funding for state/local watershed planning efforts
  • Emphasize importance of voluntary, collaborative, locally driven watershed solutions rather than top-down approaches; highlight Oregon’s watershed planning program as model

 Other Regulatory and Policy Issues

  • Engage in discussions of development of new Farm Bill, monitor implementation of current Farm Bill; development and implementation of Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA)
  • Monitor and engage in proposed changes to the Reclamation Manual (D&S)
  • Monitor and engage in Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules related to agricultural water quality

Key Strategies & Alliances:

  • Continue to submit testimony, comments, and white papers on key issues
  • Strengthen relationships with key federal agencies and increase engagement on various advisory boards
  • Strengthen relationships with Congressional delegation and staff (DC and local)
  • Continue strong involvement with Family Farm Alliance, National Water Resources Association (NWRA), Western Agricultural and Conservation coalition (WACC), & other partner organizations at the national and regional levels
  • Actively seek and promote collaborative and cooperative partnerships
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